History of the Breed

The Vendéen breed has been known in the Vendée region of France for being saved from the wrecks of Spanish galleons at the time of the Armada. More definite links were established with the importation of Southdown sheep to the Vendée a little over a century ago. Recently sheep have been selected to provide lean meat as demanded by the French market. Further selection has been made in recent years for hardiness and prolificacy.

Breed Description

The head and legs are pale to dark brown and are lightly fleeced. The body is long with a broad back, well sprung ribs, strong loin and well developed gigot. The head is hornless and the poll not too wide. The bone is medium.

It has an excellent quality close fleece which sheds water easily. It is a fine down type and uniform fibre length, staple length is 5-7cm and the average fleece weight is 3.5kg.


Main Purpose of the Breed

The main purpose of the Vendéen is for the production of high quality lean meat of an excellent flavour from both pure and crossbred sheep.

Rams may be used as excellent terminal sires on any sheep producing lambs for sale as meat to produce a carcass of good conformation (E, U, or R) with a fat class of 3 or better. They produce ideal carcasses in most cases at weights of between 16 to 20kg but even at heavier weights (> 25 kg) the carcass will normally not be over fat. Lambs are normally ready for market by ten to fifteen weeks of age with little additional feeding.

General Information

A normal body weight for adult males is 95 to 120kg and for females 65 to 80kg. Ewes and many of their crosses, breed naturally out of season without sponging. Due to the non-seasonal nature of the breed, rams are active breeders all year round. Thus Vendéens are an ideal terminal sire breed for early lamb production in addition to traditional mid-season production.

The breed is easily managed and is suitable for most management systems. The sheep will adapt to extensive systems on poor land, or they can be more intensively managed on good lowland pasture, they are also suitable for indoor rearing. Under some systems it is possible to have three crops of lambs in two years due to the non-seasonal nature of the breed. The ewes and rams are normally docile adding to the ease of management.

Ewes usually lamb easily on their own, lambing problems are uncommon, and the newborn lamb is eager to live, they "get up and grow". The normal birth weight of lambs is 4 to 6kg.

Return to Homepage Highlights of 2000 performance Links to other websites